I was reeling for a minute or two last night about a vicious and dismissive thing that a fellow columnist (and a person I respect and half-like) said about HE. I’m not going to debate the particulars but after I read it I put the iPhone into my pocket and started shuffling down Cumberland Street in a kind of lethargic stupor. I don’t get the hate that some people spew. Awful, some of it.
This led to thinking, in any case, about how we all have two concurrent identities and personalities — one we inhabit and present in face-to-face dealings with fair-weather friends, business allies, acquaintances and whatnot, and one that comes out when we’re dealing with disshevelled family members in the kitchen at 12:30 am.
If you’re part of a family that is more frustrated and dysfunctional than not, the latter is almost always acidic and wounding and backbiting and accusatory in an August: Osage County-slash-Lion in WInter sense. The HE talk-back sword-stabbings and cat ‘o’ nine tail flailings that seem to happen here every other day are basically family squabbles. The difference, of course, is that it’s not happening privately in a kitchen but on a kind of world stage with kids in Kabul keeping up with the occasional mud-throwings along with the various industry, media and uber types who regularly visit.
I sometimes regard them as Edward Albee-ish or John Osborne-esque, but they often feel…well, let’s not be facile. But they do feel depleting and fatiguing and mystifying, even, from time to time. People keep saying I’ve made my own bed with the sharp and blunt tone in my writing, but I like to think that I at least take the time to sculpt and rephrase and mull things over and finally pull back a bit before hitting “save.” Ah, well. Ah, hell.